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How the Packerton Yards project unfolded

  • 2009 file photo: A railroad crossing is situated at the entrance to the Packerton Yards in Mahoning Township. Because of the rails,  corporations might be more favorable to locating at the site, said Carbon County Commissioner William O'Gurek.
    2009 file photo: A railroad crossing is situated at the entrance to the Packerton Yards in Mahoning Township. Because of the rails, corporations might be more favorable to locating at the site, said Carbon County Commissioner William O'Gurek.
Published November 21. 2013 05:00PM

A timeline of the actions taking place regarding Packerton Yards since Commissioner William O'Gurek and then Commissioner Charles Getz made the industrialization of the site their campaign platform in 2001.

• July 31, 1992: In a move aimed at securing the 59-acre former Packerton Yards area of Mahoning Township for its proposed county prison, the Carbon County Board of Commissioners authorized its solicitor to prepare a resolution of intent to condemn the land. The land was owned by Joseph and Elizabeth Zaprazny, New Ringgold R. 2, who commissioner Dean D.W. DeLong said at one time offered to sell the land to the county for an undisclosed price. The Riefolo Construction Company, Belleville, N.J., wanted to buy the property and convert an existing building into an apartment complex.

• Jan. 30, 2003, Commissioners Getz and O'Gurek begin plan to purchase the site, which was advertised as an industrial site. One concern was the site is located in a floodplain.

• Feb. 26, 2004, Commissioners voted unanimously to hire Vincent F. Gilotti Appraisal Services to appraise the old Packerton rail yard.

• April 12, 2004, Site appraised at $400,400.

• July 9, 2004, Commissioners seek another appraisal. Person Agency Inc. of Lehighton is hired.

• Aug. 9, 2004, Second appraisal, sets price at $316,000. Zaprazny asking for $350,000.

• Aug 20, 2004, Commissioners vote unanimously to seek a $245,000 state grant to conduct an environmental assessment of the property.

• Nov. 2004, Commissioners apply for a U.S. EPA Brownfields Cleanup Grant in the amount of $200,000 to use in the reclamation and remediation of the rail yard.

• Sept. 16, 2004, Commissioners receive approval for the $245,000 "Business in Our Sites" grant.

• Dec. 23, 2004, Community Revitalization Assistance Program awards the county $150,000 to use in the purchase of the site.

• Jan. 11, 2005, Commissioners receive notification for $175,000 planning grant to use toward environmental study.

• Jan. 26, 2005, A written sale and indemnity agreement between the Zapraznys and the county is created.

• Feb. 3, 2005, Commissioners, in a 2-1 vote, voted to purchase Packerton Yards. Commissioner Wayne Nothstein cast the sole "no" vote.

• Feb. 25, 2005, The Carbon County commissioners purchase the 59-acre site from the Zapraznys at a cost of $350,000. Nothstein voted against the purchase.

• May 10, 2005, County receives notification that their request for the EPA Brownfields Cleanup Grant was not approved.

• Aug. 13, 2005, Environmental assessment rules that site is not as contaminated anymore.

• Oct. 13, 2005, J.G. Petrucci of New Jersey made the proposal to build a 70,000-square-foot building on the site.

• Jan. 20, 2006, Phase III of the Environmental Survey's findings presented to the commissioners.

• March 24, 2006, $150,000 in federal funds received for development of Packerton Yards as an industrial site.

• March 20, 2006, Commissioners plan to seek $200,000 in ARC funds, as well as $1 million in EDA money.

• May 15, 2006, Tom Pellegrini sends county final project proposal for the Packerton Business Park project.

• August, 2006, Commissioners vote to advertise for demolition bids.

• Aug. 31, 2006, Bids opened for demolition project. Flynn Demolition of Pottsville is apparent low bidder at $67,000.

• Oct. 5, 2006, Commissioners award the planned demolition project to Flynn Demolition.

• Oct. 10, 2006, April Koppenhaver, owner of Mulberry Art Studios in Lancaster, and Bruce Clark of the Clark Group, approach the board with a request to preserve the building and allow the pair to create Koppenhaver's vision of an art studio and residential housing. The request was denied.

• Oct. 10, 2006, Koppenhaver and Clark file a request for a temporary injunction

• Oct. 17, 2006, Commissioners learn they need permission from Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.

• Oct. 19, 2006, Injunction denied after Judge Addy ruled that they have no standing in the county matter.

• Oct. 24, 2006, Commissioners submit requested information to PHMC.

• Nov. 13, 2006, PHMC ruled that the county could proceed with the demolition.

• November, 2006, PHMC's ruling was appealed by Koppenhaver but not overturned.

• Nov. 28, 2006, A committee, who called itself Save Packerton Yards, formed in the hopes of saving the building.

• Dec. 26, 2006, Save Packerton Yards appeals PHMC's decision. Requests site visit.

• Dec. 27, 2006, Commissioners give Flynn Demolition green light to proceed with razing.

• Dec. 29, 2006, Thomas Zimmerman IV of Nesquehoning files a request for a temporary injunction.

• Jan. 2, 2007, PHMC notifies county that an archaeological study should be completed.

• Jan. 3, 2007, Judge David Addy denies request for injunction after a four-hour hearing.

• Jan. 3, 2007, Zimmerman appeals to Commonwealth Court.

• Jan. 9, 2007, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development says environmental review must be performed before funds could be released.

• Jan. 10, 2007, PHMC sets date to visit the site to determine if the building is still eligible for preservation. Date set for Jan. 22.

• Jan. 11, 2007, Request for a stay order filed by Zimmerman denied by Judge Addy.

• Jan. 11, 2007, Corner of the Packerton Yards building torn down as Flynn begins demolition project.

• Jan. 11, 2007, Save Packerton Yards organizes a nonprofit corporation called "Carbon Organization for Preservation and Development."

• Jan. 12, 2007, Zimmerman submits a letter to HUD, asking that all federal grant money from HUD be "frozen" until the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation has an opportunity to respond.

• Jan. 12, 2007, Commissioners receive a letter from the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation on Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, which requires federal agencies to take into account how an undertaking will affect the properties eligible for the national register.

• Jan. 16, 2007, Zimmerman files another request for temporary injunction because he claimed the commissioners violated the Sunshine Act.

• Jan. 17, 2007, Injunction hearing dismissed by Addy after two hours of testimony.

• Jan. 17, 2007, Demolition on the building continues and more progress is made.

• Jan. 18, 2007, Koppenhaver and Clark tell commissioners their actions were childish and might not be interested in the area now.

• Jan. 20, 2007, PHMC cancels visit to Packerton Yards.

• Jan. 29, 2007, Commissioners O'Gurek and Getz file a petition for award of counsel fees in the amount of $10,404.57 against Zimmerman for legal fees.

• Jan. 30, 2007, Packerton Yards building three quarters of the way demolished.

• Jan. 31, 2007, Packerton Yards demolition complete.

• Feb. 1, 2007, Commissioners ratify petition to recoup funds, vote is 2-1 with Nothstein abstaining.

• Feb. 7, 2007, Zimmerman files a complaint with ACLU over commissioners lawsuit against him.

• April 4, 2007, Hearing for petition to recoup counsel fees.

• April 12, 2007, Verdict for hearing, rules in commissioners favor.

• Nov. 8, 2007, Commissioners hire Stevens & Lee to help with negotiations for public crossings at the Packerton Yards site.

• Feb. 2008, Commissioners go in front of County Industrial Development Authority to ask for $30,000 to cover the cost of a market analysis

• March 7, 2008, Commissioners receive answer from IDA

• June 5, 2008, Commissioners hire Delta Development Group, Inc. of Harrisburg to help with preparing information on development of site.

• June 5, 2008, Commissioners state that within the next month, they will be submitting an application to PUC for approval of a public crossing at the Jamestown Dip.

• June 11, 2008, O'Gurek, Judy Borger and Delta give presentation to NEPA Regional Project Review Committee to hopefully secure at least $1.2 million of the $4.185 million project.

• July 3, 2008, Commissioners ask the Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission for a crossing at the Packerton Yards site to be converted into a public crossing.

• July 23, 2008, The plan to industrialize Packerton Yards missed the top three ranking that is needed to secure state and federal funding. Packerton Yards, which is expected to cost $4.185 million. It was ranked seventh on the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) list and fourth on the Economic Development Administration (EDA) list.

• Sept. 16, 2008, Carbon County Planning Commission gives preliminary plan approval for the project. It now goes to Mahoning Township and Lehighton for approval.

• Dec. 18, 2008, County receives news that it will be receiving $500,000 from Gov. Ed Rendell for work on the railroad tracks/crossing on the site.

• Dec. 18, 2008, Commissioners vote to send an application request for $1,999,114 from PennDOT from the Community Transportation Initiative Smart Transportation Project.

• Dec. 18, 2008, Commissioners vote to accept an agreement with HDR Engineering Inc of Omaha, Neb., who has an office in Allentown, for services relative to Packerton Yards.

• Feb. 18, 2009, County receives $631,958 from Mt. Airy Casino gaming revenue for use on the Packerton Business Park project.

• April 23, 2009, Commissioners vote to approve an agreement between the county and Norfolk Southern Railway Company for preliminary engineering services relative to Packerton crossing improvements and a proposed crossing surface and track change. The cost for the services is estimated at $9,400.

• May 18, 2009, Lehighton Borough delays decision to extend Packerton Yard's KOZ until its next meeting. The KOZ status of the property is due to expire in 2010.

• June 8, 2009, Lehighton Borough Council unanimously rejects a proposal to extend the status of the Packerton Yards as a Keystone Opportunity Zone (KOZ).

• June 10, 2009, Mahoning Township supervisors in a 4-0 vote, vote to reject the Packerton Yards KOZ extension.

• July 23, 2009, Commissioners hire The Frederick Group of Allentown to determine the fair market value on an acre of land at the site. The cost is $3,800 for the work.

• July 23, 2009, Commissioners hire McCormick Taylor of Harrisburg to perform a historical survey on the property. The archaeological study and historical review is required by federal and state officials before grant monies can be used to complete the crossing project.

• Aug. 27, 2009, Sen. Arlen Specter meets with Carbon County Commissioners and backs the county's proposed application for a $1 million federal economic development administration grant.

• Sept. 29, 2009, O'Gurek addresses Lehighton Borough Council and explains Packerton Yards projects to officials.

• Oct. 14, 2009, O'Gurek addresses Mahoning Township supervisors and answered questions and concerns about project.

• Oct. 15, 2009, Carbon County officially applies for $1 million federal EDA grant.

• Nov. 19, 2009, Commissioners hire NAI Summit of Allentown to sell all or a portion of Packerton Yards for industrial development purposes only. Term is for one year.

• Dec. 30, 2009, Commissioners authorize a letter of agreement with The Frederick Group of Allentown for an appraisal summary report of the market value of two separate rail crossing easements at Packerton Yards. The estimate, which will include the land under Norfolk Southern and Reading and Northern's railroad tracks on the property, will help the county when negotiating the purchase of that land.

• Feb. 24, 2010, Commissioners reapply for a $200,000 Appalachian Regional Commission grant to help fund the Packerton Business Park Project.

• April 16, 2010, Commissioners announce they will use $599,543 in state gaming grants to build a turning lane into the business park.

• June 17, 2010, Carbon named the recipient of a $1 million federal grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration for the project.

• July 16, 2010, County gets approval from Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission to convert a private railroad crossing into a public crossing. The crossing is located at the entrance to the former Packerton Yards, in the Packerton Dip off Route 209.

• July 29, 2010, Carbon accepts $2 million from the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Project grant for the development of the yards.

• Sept. 16, 2010, Commissioners remove federal monies earmarked for Packerton crossing project and replaces it with $500,000 in state funds.

• Nov. 8, 2011, Commissioner O'Gurek loses bid for re-election. Nothstein and Thomas Gerhard voice they will sell property.

• Jan. 10, 2012, Nothstein approaches Mahoning Supervisors to try to build partnership with development of Packerton Yards.

• Feb. 13, 2012, Commissioners reveal to Mahoning that two tenants are interested in Packerton property. No company names announced. Mahoning still looking at waivers.

• Feb. 27, 2012, Mahoning denies project sidewalks waivers needed to begin industrialization of site.

• Aug. 27, 2012, Mahoning denies Packerton land development plan.

• Sept. 6, 2012, Carbon commissioners appeal Mahoning's decision in Court of Common Pleas.

• Dec. 6, 2012, Carbon signs letter of intent to purchase a parcel of land to provide access to the planned site. The letter was between the county and Kovatch Properties LLP and would cost $9,100.

• Jan. 16, 2013, Judge Joseph Matika denies Carbon's request to lay out and open a county road through Packerton Yards.

• Jan. 31, 2013, Commissioners appeal Matika's decision to to Commonwealth Court. Commissioner Gerhard was absent from the meeting.

• Feb. 7, 2013, Commissioner Gerhard speaks out and says he is no longer in favor with working toward getting the site ready for business.

• Aug. 29, 2013, O'Gurek and Nothstein vote to adopt resolution acknowledging construction costs for the proposed project. County acknowledges it is in jeopardy of losing over $4 million in state and federal funds if development does not begin soon.

• Nov. 7, 2013, County announces it has heard from EDA, stating that it will wait to hear if county wins appeal in Commonwealth Court.

• Nov. 15, 2013, Commonwealth Court upholds Carbon County Court of Common Pleas ruling to deny Carbon's request to construct roads into Packerton because County Road Law does not supersede Township subdivision and land development ordinances.

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